Local football legend honored at NFL game

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GATESVILLE, Texas (KWTX) A Central Texas football legend who played 12 years of professional football, 7 with the Oakland Raiders, was honored in a big way over the weekend as the franchise where he ended his career celebrated its 60th anniversary.

Carolyn and Cotton Davidson pose for a picture with Raider's head coach Jon Gruden ahead of a preseason game Saturday evening in California.

Gatesville resident Cotton Davidson, 87, who played quarterback for the Raiders from 1962-1968, lit the Oakland Coliseum memorial torch in honor of his friend and NFL legend, former Raiders owner, the late Al Davis.

It took place just ahead of the preseason game in Oakland between the Raiders and the Los Angeles Rams Saturday evening.

Davidson was shown on the NFL Network where the announcer called it “emotional and fantastic” as Davidson lit the torch, a feeling shared by the Gatesville native.

“It was unreal,” Davidson said from his home in Gatesville. “I never dreamed I’d have that opportunity.”

Davidson was born and raised in Gatesville and attended Baylor University where he played football from 1949-1954.

In 1954, the quarterback was drafted in the first round by the Baltimore Colts playing on the team for one year before being drafted into the army, where he was named all-army quarterback in 1956.

Following his service, Davidson returned to Baltimore where he played backup quarterback to Hall of Famer Johnny Unitas.

Davidson next played in Canada but departed midway through the season following a shoulder injury returning to Baylor in 1959 where he joined head football coach John Bridgers as a member of his staff.

Davidson next signed with the Dallas Texans in 1960 where he played two seasons being named MVP in 1961.

The football legend then finished his professional career playing for the Raiders before coming back to Central Texas where he went on to coach another 21 years at Baylor.

This weekend Davidson’s family from Texas including his wife, Carolyn, traveled to California to honor the legend.

The family says the franchise rolled out the red carpet bringing them down on the field with head coach Jon Gruden before sitting them in box seats for the game.

Fans even lined up for autographs.

“It was wonderful,” Carolyn said. “They made us feel like celebrities. They honored us and catered to us and it was so much more than we ever anticipated.”

“We never had anything quite that grand happen to us.”